Wage & Hour Laws
Wage and hour laws dictate how much compensation employers must pay their employees in certain circumstances. Specifically, the Fair Labor Standards Act sets the nationwide minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Ohio has its own minimum wage, which is $8.80 an hour.
Employers must provide a minimum wage that meets the state level when the state’s minimum wage exceeds the federal hourly minimum pay rate. Employers also face restrictions in the amount of time an employee may work and will owe certain employees extra wages for working overtime. If an employer violates wage and hour laws, the employee can assert his or her legal rights and hold that company liable.
Federal and state wage and hour laws aim to provide basic protections for employees. For most people, these protections include minimum wage and overtime compensation.
Unfortunately, employers often attempt to circumvent wage and hour laws, by improperly classifying employees or refusing to provide pay in a timely manner. In any of these scenarios, it is best that you hire a hardworking attorney to explain the Ohio wage and hours laws and help you pursue fair pay in court. Call Tittle & Perlmuter today to set up an initial consultation.
What is Considered a Wage and Hour Violation?
Wage and hour claims occur when an employer fails to pay an employee minimum wage or overtime, or when an employee is misclassified as an independent contractor. Often when a misclassification occurs, it is because the employer is trying to deprive that worker of overtime pay, benefits, or other aspects of labor laws subject to regulations. If benefits are being withheld, that can fall under the jurisdiction of the federal law known as ERISA.
Any time that a worker has questions about their employer’s pay practices or benefits management, they should get in touch with an attorney. All work-related activities should be labeled as compensable work, but some employers may try to avoid distinguishing it that way. An attorney could also help if a worker is not being paid proper overtime or if the company is garnishing their paycheck without merit.
Who is Not Covered by Minimum Wage Laws in Ohio?
Unfortunately, not all employees are covered by minimum wage laws. In some circumstances, employers may pay the following types of workers less than minimum wage:
However, very specific conditions must be met for employers to legally avoid minimum wage requirements. Where such conditions are not met, employees may pursue a lawsuit alleging the non-payment of wages under Ohio Revised Code § 4111.10 and the FLSA. An experienced attorney in the area can help a worker demand compensation for unpaid wages as well as attorney’s fees and court costs.
How Employment Laws Are Connected
For the most part, laws that govern wages are statutory, meaning they are laws passed by a government entity such as the United States Congress, the Ohio state legislature, or by local ordinance.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act are broader areas of employment law which protect certain vulnerable demographics of people. Those would all fit under the umbrella of employment law, in addition to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act which apply to all workers.
Overtime Payment Laws
Equally important to minimum wage regulations are the laws that require overtime payment. These laws fall under federal jurisdiction in the FLSA. Unfortunately, Ohio lawmakers have not taken the step of increasing protection for overtime pay.
Instead, Ohio Revised Code § 4111.03 mirrors the federal law, which states that employees must receive one and a half times their hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 in any given week. For example, if a person’s usual hourly rate is $10, all hours that they work more than 40 in a week must be compensated at a rate of $15 per hour.
Federal regulations provide narrowly defined exemptions to overtime requirements for certain employees. For instance, professionals paid on a salaried basis are exempt from overtime regulations. However, to qualify for an exemption, employees’ job duties and salaries must meet specific tests set out by the Department of Labor. Employers that improperly classify employees as exempt are liable to employees for back pay.
Employees who believe that they have not received proper compensation for overtime can pursue legal remedies in court. A skilled lawyer at our firm can help Ohio employees determine whether they have a viable claim for overtime compensation against their employer.
What are the Laws for Employment Break Times in Ohio?
State law does not dictate that employers must provide break times or lunch breaks. However, if an employee works during his or her lunch or only takes short breaks between 5 and 20 minutes as provided by the employer, the company will owe them compensation for that time.
For example, if an employee must continue to answer the phone while on his or her lunch break, that time is compensable. Additionally, employers cannot claim that they gave an employee three fifteen-minute breaks and are therefore able to reduce pay for those 45 minutes of combined break time.
Common Wage Violations
Unpaid vacation and personal time are another common violation. Furthermore, if an employee has accrued unpaid vacation or personal time when they leave a company, they are owed pay for those unused days when they depart, under Ohio law.
Another issue is the failure to pay the proper overtime rate to include all elements of compensation and overtime. These violations commonly affect tipped employees who receive more than $30 a month in tips as part of their job. Tipped employees must be paid half of the Ohio minimum wage rate, which as of 2022 is $9.30 an hour. That means a tipped employee will be paid $4.65 an hour.
The tips must make up the rest of the $9.30. If they do not, the employer must make up the difference so that minimum wage was met. An Ohio worker should also contact a wage and hour attorney if their employer is retaining any of the tips or distributing them to others.
Less Common Wage and Hour Violations
Some violations of wage and hour laws are not as apparent as others. If employees use their personal vehicles on the job, such as for delivering pizza, the FLSA requires employers to reimburse actual expenses or reimburse them using the IRS mileage rate. Many businesses believe paying a flat delivery rate is appropriate, but it is not.
An employee should be aware that his or her employer cannot charge for, or force the employee to provide, items needed to do his or her job, such as branded uniforms or tools. Employers cannot withhold pay by offering an excuse, such as the employee left without finishing a project or did not return a uniform after leaving the company.
Employers cannot evade paying overtime by misclassifying an employee as exempt or offering compensatory time off for the overtime hours. Additionally, employees who are tipped cannot be required to share tips with managers or others who do not receive them.
What Are Some Misconceptions About Wage and Hour Laws?
A common misconception about wage and hour law is that salaried workers do not have to be paid overtime. This is incorrect – salaried workers can be paid overtime. In addition, employers have the ability to set what a workweek is. It does not have to be Sunday to Saturday; it could be Monday to Sunday or Thursday to Wednesday, et cetera. Regardless of how many hours they work in a traditional calendar week, employees must be paid overtime if they exceed their usual hours in a workweek.
An important thing everyone should know about wage and hour laws is that, particularly if they are an hourly employee or a non-exempt salary employee, they are entitled to pay for every hour of work-related activities they are doing. This could include anyone who is on-call. Their employer is required to be paying them for all of that time.